The Town of Chapel Hill added green paint and vertical barriers to select bike lanes during the week of Sept. 12 to Sept. 19.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation resurfaced West Franklin Street and changed the street’s utility with designs provided by the Town. With the help of a contractor, NCDOT added a bike lane to the street.
A bike lane was also added to East Main Street, which effectively connected downtown Carrboro to Chapel Hill via a bike route.
Sarah Poulton, the Town of Chapel Hill's downtown special projects manager, described last week's work as the "icing on the cake" of a larger process.
The paint and vertical poles, which are called "bollards," were implementations the Town decided to put in, Poulton said. She added the features go "above and beyond" the typical safety measures required by NCDOT.
Intersections between South Merritt Mill Road and Church Street now have dashed green lanes denoted for bike lane users. Solid green bike boxes will also be added in front of car traffic at some intersections, in addition to bollards to more thoroughly define the bike lanes.
“The Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Carrboro decided that we wanted kind of an enhanced level of paint and vertical bollards on the streets in order to make the new bike lane as safe as possible," Poulton said.
Downtown bike accessibility was outlined as a goal in Chapel Hill’s Mobility and Connectivity Plan in 2017, before being updated to include lane reallocation in the fall of 2020. Additional pushes for bike lane integration into Chapel Hill’s downtown came from a petition from the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said Poulton.
According to data from the Chapel Hill Police Department, 2022 has already had the highest number of bike crashes in the past five years. So far, 16 crashes have occurred in Chapel Hill, not including crashes reported on UNC’s campus.